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Kids Boost Immunity program strengthens science education in Canadian schools

Free online resource counters vaccine misinformation, helps students learn critical thinking skills and donates vaccines to children around the world.
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​Dragana Savic teaches grade 8 at Templeton Secondary in Vancouver

Once or twice a year when Dragana Savic has parent-teacher conferences, she’ll hear from parents about how her mini-school students are absorbed in their phones, scrolling and tapping away. Rather than being dismayed, the parents are supportive of their children taking online quizzes as part of the Kids Boost Immunity program. 

B.C. teachers have been using Kids Boost Immunity (KBI) since 2018. It's a free online resource designed for schools, made possible through a collaboration between the education and health sectors. The program was developed by teachers for teachers and is coordinated by staff from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) ​​and the Public Health Association of BC.

The program is available in English and French and aims to combat vaccine misinformation by strengthening students’ critical thinking skills. A key part of the lessons includes understanding the scientific method and bias and distinguishing between reliable and unreliable information. Through more than 500 online lessons designed for grades 4-12, students also learn these skills through a variety of subjects, such as how government works, global inequality, climate change, Indigenous history and governance, math, health and geography. These lessons are followed by online quizzes to solidify the students’ understanding of the material.

Global citizenship

A unique aspect of KBI is that it pairs learning with global citizenship. The program donates vaccines ​​through UNICEF Canada whenever students score 80% or higher on quizzes. This past year, Dragana’s small class of 28 Grade 8 students at Templeton Secondary in Vancouver earned 1,587 polio, tetanus and measles vaccines which were donated to children around the world. That amounts to 16,724 questions answered in the Kids Boost Immunity program, earning the class third place for most vaccines donated this year in Canada. 

Introducing the Kids Boost Immunity program also creates opportunities for educators to have broader discussions on current events. For instance, Dragana ensures she has discussions with her students about what a vaccine is, the types of vaccines and the ​economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lessons also encourage students to open up about their experiences outside of the classroom, such as when they had to get a vaccine, the types they received before travelling and their recent experiences of living through the pandemic. 

"It’s so great for teachers because of the way it links to the curriculum," says Dragana.

KBI provides an opportunity for her to evaluate students on one of the competencies of whether students can contribute to care for self, others and community, and through personal or collaborative approaches. It’s especially difficult to do so in a science class, Dragana says, which is why KBI is a strong fit.

"There isn’t a textbook, there isn’t a test, the quizzes are very accessible, and they get an instant right or wrong answer," Dragana says. "And so for some of them, it’s a good boost. I really like seeing them collaborate because it is not just a mark that I am taking in."

​​Her favourite part about KBI is seeing her students have an impact in the world.  

​​​Program is growing fast

Ian Roe is a Content Strategist and KBI co-founder at the BCCDC. He says it has been amazing to watch the program grow from being in a handful of pilot schools in 2017 to being part of close to 1,000 schools across the country.  

"One metric that I am proud of is the number of questions answered per student on quizzes that accompany each lesson," says Ian. "That number is 125 and, given that each lesson has between five to 10 questions, it really speaks to the high level of engagement and deep learning that takes place in the classroom when students use KBI."

Ian says KBI also offers a lesson called "How to Handle Your Shots Like a Champ" designed to educate students in grades six to nine about the routine vaccines they will be receiving in those grades. It's intended to educate at the right time and the right place and reduce anxiety leading up to the school-based clinic.

Ian Roe (fourth from left) stands with Theresa Tam and the KBI team
















Ian Roe (second from right) stands with the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Theresa Tam (middle) and some members of the Kids Boost Immunity team.

To date, here are some of the impressive statistics tracked through KBI:

  • 6,440 Canadian teachers have used KBI, including 1,844 teachers in B.C.​
  • 978 Canadian schools are using KBI, including 375 in B.C.
  • 41,819 Canadian students have used KBI since 2018, and
  • 4,007 students in B.C. used KBI this year.

Kids Boost Immunity (KBI) is a Canadian health-education initiative supported through a partnership between the BCCDC, the Public Health Association of British Columbia (PHABC), the B.C. Ministry of Health, and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

 
 

 

 

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